3 Questions with Marja Samsom – Dumpling Diva, Star of Chopped, Performance Artist

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Marja Samson, making Poffertjes at The New Amsterdam Market

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Marja and some of her wonderful friends at a celebration honoring Stephen Petronio’s 30 years of dance – from left: Jean Stone, Marja Samsom, Kirsten Hawthorne and Valerie Foley (from WSJ)

I first got to know Marja when she was doing underground dinners for friends and clients out of her catering space dubbed the “kitchen club” in the then furthest reaches of the East Village.

By 1990 Marja had opened The Kitchen Club Restaurant on Prince Street and she truly was a pioneer in the neighborhood.  Long before fashion boutiques lined the streets of Nolita, Marja was cooking up amazing dumplings and chilean sea bass and the most delicious trifle dessert at her beautiful restaurant at Prince and Mott.

The Kitchen Club & Chibi’s Bar became an iconic destination for art and fashion icons like Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson, Macolm McLaren, Zaha Hadid, Bjork, Catherine Denueve, Inez and Vinoodh…and it was also one of my favorite neighborhood haunts!

Read below for more on The Kitchen Club and Marja’s inspirations (books and music feature prominently!).

When Marja started to serve Thanksgiving Dinners I was in 7th heaven – so delicious (organic turkey!) and such a great vibe.  For me, still to this day, nothing has replaced the fabulous Kitchen Club Thanksgiving dinners. Marja closed the restaurant on New Year’s Eve in 2010 (on its 20th anniversary) and is now holding cooking workshops throughout New York City at venues including the Japanese Culinary Center, the New Amsterdam Market, and Building on Bond – and she has also returned to doing performance art.

YOUR 3 FAVORITE SOURCES FOR THE NEW/INFLUENTIAL/ INSPIRATIONAL

1. Inez&Vinoodh

A Dutch fashion photographer duo, whose work has been featured in fashion magazines and advertising campaigns. They also have produced some of the very best, most creative music videos – most recently the Rihanna/Kanye West/ Paul McCartney “FourFiveSecondsvideo. They also produce independent art work and lifestyle products e.g. fragrance and most recently they curated Marja’s new book “Diary of a Forgotten Actress”.

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At home

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ID cover featuring the fourfivesecond video

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Recently published book 2015 / Curated by Inez & Vinoodh

2. threeASFOUR design

threeASFOUR is an avant garde group who run a fashion label that was originally established in 1998 as ASFOUR. Since 2005 the New York City based label consists of three designers, Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser, and Adi Gil, who were originally a part of the designer group ASFOUR. Featuring the three designers, as well as designer Kai Khune. Khune later left the group to pursue his own label. The experimental designs produced by threeASFOUR have been purchased and displayed by several museums.

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The threeASFOUR trio, Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil

3. Music of any kind disco/ jazz/ ‘bang on a can’ /music in subway / St.John Divine Cathedral

 

3 BRANDS/ STORES/ SERVICES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

1. McNally Jackson on Prince

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2. Union Square Market

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3. Byredo Parfume ‘1996’ (from Inez and Vinoodh)

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WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WE SHOULD CHECK OUT
1. Karma Bookshop on Great Jones

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McDermott & McGough in front of their window installation at KARMA, 39 Great Jones Street, NYC

2. Nalata Nalata design shop located at 2 Extra Place

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LOVE this store – must checkout ASAP

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Nalata Nalata first flagship store

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Nalata Nalata

And finally a look back at the amazing Kitchen Club restaurant….

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